Vaughan Williams: An Oxford Christmas / Vann, Royal Hospital Chelsea Chapel Choir

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The album is an absolute delight. It will appeal to any listener interested in the carol in the 20th century. This recording focuses on arrangements made...

The album is an absolute delight. It will appeal to any listener interested in the carol in the 20th century.

This recording focuses on arrangements made by Vaughan Williams for The Oxford Book of Carols (1928), coupled with two later carols published by OUP. Many of the tunes are far from well-known and deserve a new audience. We think 10 of the 22 tracks are first recordings, but reserve the right to have overlooked one or two amidst the vast but very mixed heritage of recorded carols. The preface to The Oxford Book of Carols tells us that: ‘Variety in the method of singing is even more important than with hymns, and the verses should never be sung straight through all in the same way.’ In this spirit the choir’s director, William Vann, has prepared the carols for recording with a mixture of accompanied, unaccompanied and solo verses. Few of these carols are likely to have been undertaken by a congregation; this recording by a choir of distinguished professional singers presents the carols at their best, supported by the Henry Willis organ of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, in half of the carols.

REVIEWS:

Make this CD your #1 stocking stuffer for everyone on your Christmas (or other holiday or friendship) gift list; strongly recommended with utmost delight!

-- Fanfare

This release is a companion or second volume to the Albion label's 2016 release, A Vaughan Williams Christmas, containing similar material except that the earlier recording included a few original hymns by Vaughan Williams. Here, all of the pieces are arrangements made for the Oxford Book of Carols, of which Vaughan Williams was the editor.

The album is an absolute delight. One attraction is the in-depth booklet, exploring the background of this book of carols and the reasons for its lasting influence. Many are modal rather than tonal, and Vaughan Williams' arrangements are delightfully varied. The carol texts themselves are wonderful, homespun, but often profound.

The Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea is a venerable small group, rarely recorded, that has a transparent, creamy sound that fits this repertory beautifully. For anyone who has sung from the Oxford Book of Carols, this album is an absolute must, and it will appeal to any listener interested in the carol in the 20th century.

-- AllMusicGuide.com (James Manheim)



Product Description:


  • Release Date: October 22, 2021


  • UPC: 5060158190508


  • Catalog Number: ALBCD050


  • Label: Albion


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: 20th Century


  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams


  • Conductor: William Vann


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea


  • Performer: Angus McPhee, Eleanor Minney, Eloise Irving, Jonathan Beatty, Joshua Ryan, Tom Castle